Can mobile help you find new supporters, engage donors and fundraise at events?
Ask Robert Thompson, former director of media relations for Mile High United Way in Denver, who used mobile as part of their annual Thanksgiving Day event, the Turkey Trot:
“Mobile gave us the base audience with which to begin communicating and messaging about the Mile High United Way, due to our use of mobile at our annual Turkey Trot event,” he says. “Because of the amazing response, we are excited to use mobile again with the Turkey Trot this year.”
(Read more about how the Mile High United Way used mobile in their annual Turkey Trot event)
Thompson, the Mile High United Way and other nonprofits that have successfully integrated mobile into their fundraising events, know that the power of mobile can help maximize attendee involvement and response. They understand that mobile is another way to engage supporters and enable them to respond and act while they are involved in an event.
Here is why mobile and events go hand in hand:
- Event attendees are most likely to have their mobile phones on their persons and even in their hands during your event. People keep their mobile phones within arms reach 19 hours per day.
- Mobile provides an easy way for attendees who are already energized about your organization to amplify your message to their networks while they are most excited – i.e. at your event.
- Your messages will get read – mobile has a 97 percent open rate – so key info about your organization and text-to-donate messages will get through.
An event gives you the opportunity to maximize “in-the-moment” engagement. In-the-moment supporters are paying attention, they are focused and involved due to the excitement of the event and the social interaction your event provides with others who share the same values. Your event is an engagement-rich environment. Mobile is another way to leverage that environment and turn it into involvement, providing an easy way for your your supporters to engage in a personal way, through a medium they use and pay attention to every day.
For all these reasons you want to include a mobile phone engagement strategy in your event. Mobile phones can be used to:
- Share event information with attendees
- Help recruit and organize volunteers
- Cultivate relationships
- Gather information
Here are some tactics you can deploy with mobile to support your event and gain stronger relationships with supporters – and their networks.
Before the Even
- Collect mobile phone numbers on paper and online event registration forms
- Send an email to participants asking them to opt in to your mobile network (Learn tips on using email and mobile).
- Follow-up with a welcome message to participants who opt-in.
- Segment your mobile supporters by event participants or attendees and event volunteers, and message them appropriately.
- Set donor expectations about the amount of text messages they will receive before, during and after your event.
- Share important event and venue information. Provide a mobile link to your website or Facebook page for the event.
- Encourage mobile supporters to share your information (and mobile links!) about the event with their networks through social media.
During the event
- Collect cell phone numbers at on-site registration.
- Place signage at the event venue calling upon attendees to opt-in to your mobile network.
- Include calls to action for mobile from the event stage.
- Have friendly volunteers equipped with a mobile tablet mingle with the crowd and recruit mobile sign-ups.
- Send motivational or informational messages to volunteers.
- In a multi-day event send out daily highlights.
- Ask fun survey questions and use it as a cultivation and mobile recruitment device.
- Create a Twitter hashtag for your event and encourage mobile Tweeting.
After the Event
- Thank supporters.
- Share event results and stories.
- Encourage supporters to share their stories with a mobile link to social media.
- Use email to recruit event attendees who are not in your mobile network and ask them to join.
- Conduct a survey about the event.
Of course, you can also solicit for text donations before, during and/or after the event. Text donors like to donate at events (according to our 2013 Text Donation Survey). But for people who are new to your event, or to mobile, spending some time cultivating a relationship will build a better engagement with them over the long run. Deciding who to select for solicitations and who to engage in relationship-building (or both) is another example of why segmenting your mobile donor list makes sense.
Many of these tactics for engaging event participants on mobile are easy – the most important thing is what happens after the event, to make sure that supporters you’ve engaged via mobile related to an event have a reason to stay engaged on mobile going forward. In-the-moment involvement must be followed by sustained engagement to maintain interest and develop a lasting relationship.
These are just a few ideas for mobile engagement during an event. Think about adding these tactics to your end-of-year event planning. Tell us how it goes – or, if you have any additional ideas, please share in the comments section below!